3 Kinds Of Cough Medicine & What They Do
Posted on December 6, 2013 | Author and Reviewed by: Mark Ernest Del Rosario, RPh
There’s a saying that goes, “There are many ways to skin a cat”. Though not meant in the literal, the simple message of that quote is that there are many ways to achieve an end goal. How you reach it is entirely up to you.
This saying can be applied to treating a cough. Its different forms call for different kinds of medicine for cough. In this article, we’ll look at the three kinds of cough medicine (suppressants, expectorants, and topical remedies) and what they do.
A cough is not always caused by a viral or bacterial infection and even phlegm lodged in the esophagus or lungs. If you commute or live in a highly polluted area, like Metro Manila or China, dirt, grime, and smog can irritate the throat, causing you to have a coughing fit. Coughing is the body’s defense mechanism of getting rid of the pollutants from your system.
This is where cough suppressants come in. These kinds of medicine reduce the body’s cough reflex, making you cough even less. The name comes from the term ‘suppress’, meaning ‘to contain’ or ‘repress’.
Now there are kinds of cough caused by phlegm stuck in the throat or lungs. This is usually called “chesty” or “congested” cough based on research gathered in an Over-The-Counter Safety online article. The congestion in those areas causes difficulty in releasing the phlegm.
If suppressants reduce the coughing reflex, oral expectorants – on the other hand – thin the phlegm in these congested areas allowing you to expel them much easily from your body. A well-known example of an expectorant is guaifenesin.
Ointment, camphor, and menthol are just some forms of topical medicine. These are usually aromatic in nature, and are rubbed on the chest, nose, and throat to provide relief for cough and colds, according to an online article from WebMD. In a MedicineNet online article, camphor and menthol cough medicines are also available for steam inhalation, which is another method these cough medicines are topically applied to the body.
So there you have it – 3 kinds of cough medicine and how they prevent cough. To review: If you have a constant, dry cough caused by inhaling pollutants, use suppressants; for phlegm-y coughs, expectorants; and for comfort from cough and colds, topical medicines are your best shot.
The next time you start coughing, you know which medicine to use. Using either one or a combination of two or all three, could mean recovering faster and feeling better.
Feeling better? Leave us a comment below and share which medicine worked for you.